By Mike Ambs, January 25th, 2010

The Filmmaker Summit is just two days away tomorrow – the event is a collective effort of the teams behind the Workbook Project, Open Video Alliance and Slamdance. I’ve been spending some of my free-time keeping up with the discussions on WBP, many of which dealing with festivals, distribution methods, social media, and DIY culture in general.

There’s a long list of tiny steps that have to be taken before For Thousands of Miles is ready to distribute. My goals for this year are highly ambitious – and I know that my chances of reaching those goals on-my-own are remote. Amanda and I have been fortunate enough in the past to bring on people who are not only amazingly talented, but incredibly supportive in their confidence of Pedal.

But there is one area of this project that is very intimidating to me. And for as far as we’ve come alone with this film… for all the obstacles and dead-ends and set-backs… the one area where I do feel increasingly isolated is: distribution.

I have heard over and over again – the last three years especially – the importance of a distribution plan *before* you even start your film. This is not to say that Amanda and I have zero plans for the release of FToM – we actually have a strict idea of releasing the film for free online (see Nina Paley). But with this model of release comes an overwhelming amount of preparation… preparation that I feel hasn’t been done.

For example – On Peter Broderick’s website, he goes into some of the key points behind a distribution team, which include: strategy, foreign sales, outreach coordinators, theatrical and semi-theatrical bookers, and print and online publicists. Do all of these points apply to FToM? No. But enough of them do to make it clear Amanda and I must find a way to really lock down our plans, to really fill in the lines between point a and point b of saying “we are releasing our film online for free” and actually making it happen.

I’ll end this post with a few questions: How have (experienced filmmakers) / do-you-plan (aspiring filmmakers) on releasing your film? How did / will you form a distribution team? Was / is this team included in your project’s budget? If your film, like many 1st time filmmakers, has no real financial foundation – how did you still go about forming a team of people for something global like this? Any advice could really help put my mind at ease and get Amanda and I pointed in a more constructive direction.

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Posted in FILMMAKER SUMMIT 2010 For Thousands of Miles

Mike Ambs currently lives in Ypsilanti. He loves to film things and tell stories. And read on the subway. He's pretty sure blue whales are his power animal.

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